Author's Notes: Please don't tell them I've gone over to the dark side.
Jordan, you are the light of my life and the, um, apple of my eye...? Thank you for being the world's best beta, and of course, a fellow (closet) Twilight fan.
Disclaimer: Is the Space Pope reptilian? Oh. Wait.
By: Touch of Violet
blue·shift [bloo-shift] –noun Astronomy .
a shift toward shorter wavelengths of the spectral lines of a celestial object, caused by the motion of the object toward the observer.
Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice;
it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.
-William Jennings Bryan
Chapter One: Goodbye
I was more nervous than I should have been. Really, it wasn't a big deal. Sure, my crazy family was making it into a big deal, but it wasn't. It was just track nationals. I'd be in and out of town for a few weeks over the summer. That was all. No big deal. Really.
But, still. Nervous.
I bit at a stray cuticle and watched the waves crash into the rocky sand. It was unusually windy for this time of year, and there were a good deal of surfers out on the water today. There were even a couple of kiteboarders out, showing off for all the girls left on the beach. One of them got a good deal of air before the kite caught the wind wrong and he and his whole setup fell into the water.
I could hear a couple of the girls giggling to each other, pointing at the fallen kiteboarder and exchanging less than dazzling comments.
I abandoned the cuticle – ugh, a manicure was definitely on the horizon – and shoved my hands into the front pockets of my hoodie. They balled up into fists and I wished I had something to do with them to help ease my anxiety. I had a stray thought about learning how to knit – not that that would help me now, on the freakin' beach, hello – before picking up a couple of the stones next to me.
Maybe I could find a flat enough one to skip.
Over the large waves.
Because that was possible.
I found a large, flat black stone and held it in the palm of my hand. It sparkled in the hazy light of the cloudy afternoon; it seemed oddly familiar, though I couldn't place where I'd seen it before.
"Nessie!" A male voice called, "Hey, Ness!"
I looked up, startled that he caught me by surprise, and smiled at Jacob. He was shirtless (as always) and unaffected by the wind. He smiled as he sat down next to me, his dark eyes glinting. "Why didn't you call?"
I pointed to my nose and winked. I knew that as long as he was anywhere in the area, he would pick up my scent and find me. Plus, I was hoping it would take him a little while to locate me so that I could work up something intelligible to say to him.
His smile grew and he nudged me with his shoulder. "So, what's up?"
I thought about just coming out with it. I thought about immediately telling him my summer plans and, coincidentally, my reason for being on First Beach at all. But instead, I said,
"I'm going vegan."
His dark, bushy eye brows came together. "Is that like, a vampire joke or something?"
I chuckled. "No. It's just me being Eco friendly. And speaking of vampires, please don't tell my parents. Well, I'm sure Dad already knows because, mind reader, but it's probably best not to bring it up all the same."
He stared at me for a little while and I could almost hear the gears turning in his head. "I don't get it."
I laughed despite myself. "I'm going vegan, Jacob. At least for the summer. No animal products whatsoever."
"None?" he asked, sounding incredulous.
He shook his head, his shaggy hair falling into his eyes. "Nessie, that's not safe. What if you get thirsty? What if-"
"It's okay, Jake. My thirst has never been as bad as the rest of my family's. And I know it's going to be difficult but I believe it's the best thing for me." His unconvinced look made me sigh and promise, "If it gets real bad I'll cheat on the vegan thing and find an elk or something."
He rolled his eyes but seemed placated. "You and this 'mother earth' crap. Stupid Prius."
I laughed again. Last September, for my 7th birthday, I received a driver's license from my Uncle Jasper and the car of my choice from my mom and dad. Jacob seemed to be personally offended by the mere existence of my Toyota Prius.
"It's a hybrid. Like me."
He rolled his eyes again. "It's not even a real car. It's a toy. Anything that can be plugged into a wall is not a car."
"Well," I said grinning, "you don't have to drive it."
He mumbled incoherently under his breath and I knew he'd drop the subject. Jacob always insisted on driving me home and running back to the reservation by himself. I'd never really thought about telling him no.
We sat together for a while, just watching the ocean. The rock felt heavy in my hand and I stuck it in the pocket of my shorts. I didn't want to try to skip it. It was too pretty and too familiar.
Jacob sighed quietly next to me. "You're leaving, aren't you?"
I grimaced, suddenly feeling more guilty than nervous. "Yes."
He didn't say anything for a little while, watching the kiteboarders do some less than impressive tricks. "I just don't understand why."
I shrugged. "It makes me feel normal."
"But you're not normal!" He exclaimed, gesturing widely with his arms. "You're better than normal! You're…you're Nessie!"
"Yeah," I agreed because, well, there really was no arguing with logic that solid. "But there is a very normal, very human side to me that I'd…I'd like to get to know better, I guess."
Jacob looked more confused about that than about the Vegan thing. He twisted his hands together and it was obvious he desperately wanted to understand where I was coming from. I smiled at him and gently placed my fingertips on his cheek.
How could I possibly explain this selfish, burning desire to fit in with my peers? I was so grateful for my weird and wonderful family, but I wanted to belong somewhere else – somewhere outside my home. And unfortunately, I just never seemed to fit anywhere outside the safety of the Cullen household.
In my mind's eye, I could see my awkward and sometimes painful school days. Very rarely did anyone speak to me. I sat by myself during every class and at lunch time. I was an outsider, an often unwelcome member of Forks High. When girls did talk to me, it was usually mocking. Occasionally they spoke to each other about me like I wasn't even in the room – remarking on how weird and out of place I was.
It hurt. I knew it shouldn't – what did these silly human teenage girls matter in the great scheme of things? But I wanted to fit in. I want to be liked. I wanted to have friends who were neither vampires nor werewolves. I knew it was selfish – I had a great home life. I had almost everything anyone could ever want. But there it was anyway: the desperate longing to be normal, the pain from not fitting in.
When I took my hand away from Jacob's face a deep frown was pulling at his lips. "Ness," he said in a shocked whisper, "Who were those girls? I'll give 'em something to talk about!"
His low growl broke my somber mood and made me laugh. "It's not just the girls though, Jake." I admitted. His dark eyes narrowed and there was no longer a friendly sparkle.
"Show me," he said in that deep timbre of a voice that was typically saved for Alpha Mode.
I obeyed without thinking. Placing my hand on his, I showed him. Very rarely did boys approach me. But when they did, they didn't take too kindly to being rejected by the school's weirdest student. And the rumors boys started in locker rooms were often infinitely worse than anything the girls gossiped about.
His eyes were murderous when I pulled my hand away.
"You're never going back there," he said in the same, deep timbre. "I'm talking to your parents about it today. You can go back to being homeschooled. You are never going back there."
"Oh, no! Jacob!" My voice was desperate as I grabbed his hand again.
School wasn't completely terrible. I was good at Track and Field – and, really, why wouldn't I be? Half vampire and all. But looking convincing was a challenge, and I liked the feeling of accomplishment that came from placing well in a race. Plus, my teammates seemed to forget that I was an outsider when we were all competing together. There was even a girl who was relatively new to the school who called me her friend. Unfortunately, we didn't have any classes together and had different lunch periods. The time that we did get to spend together, though, almost made me feel like a normal teenage girl.
I felt like I fit in when I was on the track field, and that was why I wanted to compete at the national level.
Jacob stood up, sighing. He looked defeated, and I could tell he was going to let me go without a fight. He reached out his hand and helped me to my feet.
He stared at me for a long moment, and for some reason it was hard to breathe. The air around us felt suddenly dense. It was so thick it was suffocating and I wondered what happened to the windy day.
Jacob's gaze dropped to his feet, his hands hidden in the pockets of his shorts. "It doesn't have to be like this, Nessie," he whispered.
The suffocating feeling increased and my abnormally fast heart picked up; I was afraid I might pass out from lack of oxygen. The air was so thick around us I thought maybe I could reach out and push it away – just long enough to take a decent breath.
"You don't have to leave, Ness," he continued, unaffected by the air around us. "I could…I want to keep you safe. I want to make you happy. More than anything." His voice broke and so did my determination.
I rested my hand on his cheek, unsure of exactly what to show him, unsure of what to say to him. I wanted him to know that I knew. I wanted him to know that I didn't care about the male population, or what they thought about me, because they didn't really matter. Leaving wasn't about boys. It wasn't about finding love. It was about being happy with who I was without feeling out of place all the time.
My mind flashed to different memories of Jacob. He'd always been there. He'd always taken care of me and praised me, always been the first to soothe my worries or make me feel better about myself. I knew, from the bottom of my heart I knew, that he spoke the truth. And that all he wanted in his whole life was to simply make me happy.
My fingers lingered on his cheek bone. Even though I knew that…
I took a deep breath. Even though I knew that, I wasn't ready to stay.
He smiled softly and took my hand into his own much larger one. For a moment, we just looked at each other.
Finally, he sighed, and it felt like I could breathe again. "You got some time to be thoroughly owned in wakeboarding before you go traveling all across the country?"
I laughed, zipping my hoodie open, already in my bikini. "You're going down, Black!"
His grin took on a wolfish quality, his dark eyes sparkling again. "Not a chance, Cullen."
We ended up having a lot of fun wakeboarding and body surfing. Of course, Jacob and I always had fun when we got together.
He often forgot that I was rather unbreakable; he would never let me fall onto the sand when I'd try to be impressive on the wakeboard and fail. He was always there to catch me.
It was a little annoying.
Not that I wanted a mouth full of sand in particular, but, I was a big girl with indestructible skin. I could handle a little fall at the beach.
He drove me to my house, in my Prius, in relative silence. The dense air at the beach seemed to have followed us to the car. It was weird, because while we were having fun breathing came easy. Now though, in the silence of my car (the Prius' engine was ridiculously noiseless) there was a thickness in the atmosphere I couldn't quite figure out. Mercifully, we pulled into the yard of my house, forgoing the garage.
"I'll walk you in," Jacob said, not looking at me as he hurried out of the car. He didn't open the door for me and stood, expectantly waiting at the entrance of the house.
I raised an eyebrow, but obediently unbuckled and followed him. "Okay, well, thank you for bringing me home."
He grinned his patented wolfish grin (maybe I was getting a cold - maybe that's why it was so hard to breathe today…um, not that I'd ever had a cold) before opening the door. "Wouldn't want you alone in the death carriage."
"Hardy har har." I shook my head and walked inside. "You shouldn't knock so hard on the Prius, it's really-"
Crash. Bang. Spasm. "...the hell?"
The lights flicked on and the entrance hall was filled with family members and friends.
I probably should have smelled them. Or, seen them. Because, half vampire.
It was somehow Jacob's fault for distracting me with...dense air. And so forth.
Auntie Alice was on me first, before I even had a real chance to look around, hugging me so tight I choked. "Are you surprised?" She demanded.
Coughing, I nodded and pushed her away. "Yes. Very! What, um, what is going on?"
She giggled and stood at my side. "It's a surprise good luck/going away party. See, it's fitting because, we are all wishing you good luck, and you are going away. And, so are we! So, it's a party for all of us, really, but mostly for you."
I looked around the room to see who 'all of us' was. Mom and Dad were by the stairs, Mom waving excitedly when I glanced in their direction. Grandad Swan and the Clearwaters were next to them. Grandma and Grandpa Cullen and Uncle Jasper were to my right. And Uncle Emmett and Auntie Rose were just to my left, all the members of the Denali coven standing behind them.
Jacob's warm hand was on the small of my back, guiding me into the center of the room. "Breathe, baby girl," he whispered in my ear.
His command seemed to have the exact opposite effect on my ability to breathe.
My family (the Cullen side) was taking the summer to travel with Tanya's coven around Africa. It was a special birthday present for Uncle Em, who couldn't wait to bag some tigers and possibly a lion or two. I had planned on going with them until I qualified to participate in nationals for track, so, effectively, my family was leaving me all alone for most of the summer.
I would be a perfectly, average, ordinary teenager for the entire summer - absolutely no vampiric relatives around at all. And though I would miss them, I was excited to the point of being giddy.
I did not expect a 'Going Away' party for all of us, or for anyone of us, really, but knowing my Auntie Alice, I should have seen it coming.
"Hi, everyone!" I finally said, and my Mom squealed. She jumped off the stairs and was hugging me in seconds.
"It was SO hard not to tell you!" Bella admitted, squeezing me somehow tighter than Auntie Alice had managed. "We're all just so proud of you!"
"And we're going to miss you," Edward said, suddenly at my side, taking me from my mother and hugging me. He flashed a meaningful look at Jacob. "Be careful while we're gone."
He kissed my cheek and I thought I might get a face sprain from smiling too hard.
"Jacob!" I said, hitting him in the shoulder. "I can't believe you were in on this!"
His hands were in his pockets when he shrugged, his eyes twinkling. "Any excuse to show you up on the wakeboard."
Alice snorted, hitting him on his other shoulder. "If only the mutt would do what I tell him! I had a dress all picked out for you, but he was all, 'meh'! And now, look at you! You'll be a mess for the pictures! Shorts and a hoodie over a bikni," she sniffed, "hardly appropriate party wear."
"Pictures?" I asked absentmindedly as Uncle Emmett shoved something in my face that flashed. I glared at him and he laughed, taking another picture.
"Don't worry about it," Jacob said, smiling down at me, his eyes smoldering in a way that was definitely illegal in at least fifteen states, "you look good in anything."
Suddenly desperate to get away, I threw myself into Auntie Rose's arms and we posed like fashion models for Uncle Em's camera.
Soon I was hugging everyone, happy beyond all reason to see Charlie again, and to see our extended family. Especially -
"Garrett!" I laughed as he twirled me around. "It's so good to see you!" I held his hand and thought about the last time I saw him two Thanksgivings ago, when Auntie Alice decided she wanted the real American holiday experience. He had taught me how to bow hunt, which was fun, but decidedly not as easy as just biting something.
He laughed and hugged me once more. "That was a lot of fun," he agreed, "We'll have to try again when we get back from Africa."
Kate was there, pulling me into her arms. "Don't worry," she whispered into my ear, "I'll shock him if he tries to pull out the god awful bow again."
He grunted as though someone had punched him in the stomach, and I couldn't help but burst into giggles.
After greeting everyone - Seth Clearwater kissed me on the cheek, saying something like 'Hey, beloved niece!' before abruptly being kicked in the shin by Jacob - Auntie Alice dragged me upstairs to change.
"I swear," she mumbled not quite under her breath, "that mutt will be the death of me." Even though she probably meant to sound intimidating, there was absolutely no animosity in her voice. In fact, she almost sounded somewhat affectionate of Jacob, and I couldn't help but chuckle.
I wondered just how much my cheeks were going to hurt tomorrow from smiling far more than any reasonable person should in one evening.
End Notes: Guess I'm out of the closet now. Team Fursplode!